‘Fascinating and bewitching’: Chiharu Shiota’s ‘The Soul Trembles’ at GOMA now

June 17, 2022

A burnt baby grand piano attached to rows of singed empty wooden seats. Boats interconnected by a vast membrane of red thread. 

The Soul Trembles’ expresses the intangibles: memories, dreams, anxiety and silence.

The exhibition highlights twenty-five years of internationally renowned artist Chiharu Shiota’s practice and is now open at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), encompassing the entire ground floor. It is the largest and most extensive exhibition to date for the artist.

 GOMA is the exclusive Australian venue for ‘The Soul Trembles’, a survey of more than a hundred works, incorporating large-scale installations, sculpture, video performance, photography, drawing and set design. Using millions of fine threads, Shiota’s constructions spill from wall to floor to ceiling.

Reuben Keehan, Curator of Contemporary Asian Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) said Shiota’s work would spark the imaginations of visitors across generations and cultural backgrounds.

 ‘Shiota’s artistic practice is deeply personal, expressed through works with universal themes and ambitions. The exhibition title refers to the inexpressible stirrings of the heart, while the countless threads of the artist’s striking, room-filling installations allude to the complex connections that reach deep into our being,’ Mr Keehan said.

 ‘Moving her hands to create a three-dimensional drawing, Shiota gradually forms a surface from the lines of thread until they completely fill the space. Like prey caught in a spider’s web, we are instantaneously fascinated and bewitched by the extraordinary worlds created,’ Mr Keehan said.


The accompanying Children’s Art Centre exhibition ‘Chiharu Shiota: A Feeling’ explores themes of inner life, including the soul, emotions, and how to express big ideas. The project includes a video in which children share their thoughts about the soul and encourages young visitors to make a drawing of how they feel and add it to a cumulative display.


Born in Osaka in 1972, Shiota enrolled at Kyoto Seika University to study painting in 1992. After a formative year at Canberra School of Art from 1993-94 where she abandoned painting in favour of the expressive immediacy of performance and installation, Shiota then based her practice in Berlin from 1999 developing a practice of truly international reach.

Chiharu Shiota

‘GOMA will be truly transformed with this exclusive and immersive exhibition which showcases the work of a unique artist,’ said Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch.

‘The Queensland Government supports QAGOMA to present major work on an international scale to engage visitors and boost our cultural tourism profile.

‘This is especially important in the lead up to the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics, when our arts and cultural organisations will be showcased and celebrated on a global stage.’

Tickets can be purchased at www.qagoma.qld.gov.au with a newly introduced youth ticket price for visitors aged 13 to 17.

The exhibition continues at GOMA until 3 October 2022.